How to Pick the Right Sonography Program Near Florence Alabama
Now that you have made a decision to pursue an ultrasound technician degree near Florence AL, the next step is to start the process of picking a school. To begin with, you must find the right program that will provide the appropriate instruction to become a skilled professional. And since a number of states do require that sonographers be either licensed or certified, depending on where you will practice you may also need to be prepared to pass a certification or licensing exam. So it's extremely important that you research each college in order to evaluate and compare your choices. But exactly where does one begin? Most potential students will begin by looking for colleges that are within commuting distance of their homes and then by comparing tuition. Naturally location and cost should be taken into account when making a decision, but there are other important factors also. For example, if the ultrasound technician schools are accredited or if they offer internships. These and additional qualifications will be discussed more in detail later in this post. But to start with, let's discuss what a sonogram tech does and the credentials and online training programs that are available.
Sonogram Tech Work Summary
There are multiple acceptable titles for ultrasound techs (technicians). They are also referred to as ultrasound technologists, sonogram techs, and diagnostic medical sonographers (or just sonographers). No matter what their title is, they all have the same primary job description, which is to perform diagnostic ultrasound techniques on patients. Even though many work as generalists there are specialties within the field, for instance in cardiology and pediatrics. Most work in Florence AL hospitals, clinics, private practices or outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Typical daily work tasks of a sonogram tech may include:
- Keeping records of patient medical histories and specifics of each procedure
- Counseling patients by explaining the procedures and answering questions
- Preparing the ultrasound machines for testing and then cleaning and recalibrating them
- Escorting patients to treatment rooms and ensuring their comfort
- Using equipment while minimizing patient exposure to sound waves
- Reviewing the results and determining necessity for additional testing
Ultrasound techs must frequently gauge the safety and performance of their machines. They also must adhere to a high ethical standard and code of conduct as medical practitioners. In order to sustain that level of professionalism and remain up to date with medical knowledge, they are required to complete continuing education programs on an ongoing basis.
Sonogram Technician Degrees Available
Ultrasound tech enrollees have the choice to acquire either an Associate or a Bachelor's Degree. An Associate Degree will typically require around 18 months to 2 years to finish depending on the course load and program. A Bachelor's Degree will require more time at up to four years to finalize. Another alternative for individuals who have already earned a college degree is a post graduate certificate program. If you have received a Bachelor's Degree in any major or an Associate Degree in a related health field, you can instead choose a certificate program that will require just 12 to 18 months to finish. Something to consider is that the majority of sonographer programs do have a practical training component as part of their curriculum. It often may be fulfilled by entering into an internship program which many schools set up with Florence AL clinics and hospitals. When you have graduated from any of the certificate or degree programs, you will then need to comply with the licensing or certification prerequisites in Alabama or whatever state you choose to work in.
Ultrasound Technology Specialties
Ultrasound technology, or diagnostic sonography, has become more popular for diagnosing internal medical conditions because, unlike other medical imaging tools such as X-rays or CT Scans, ultrasound doesn’t expose the body to radiation. This safer approach has made ultrasound imaging the preferred method for testing pregnant women and infants, who have a higher risk for complications due to radiation. However, babies and expectant mothers are not the only ones who can benefit from ultrasound imaging and it is used in many ways to diagnose illness in the body. Following is a partial list of ultrasound technician education specialties available in the Florence AL area:
- Musculoskeletal sonographers can create real-time images of joint injuries, assisting orthopedic surgeons and sports physicians in their diagnosis and treatment.
- Abdominal sonographers specialize in generating images of abdominal internal organs and tissues, such as the pancreas, spleen, liver and gallbladder.
- Breast sonographers conduct ultrasound scans using a sound frequency specifically targeted for breast tissue to evaluate tumors and other abnormalities as a method of verifying or contradicting the results of a mammogram.
- Obstetrics/Gynecology sonographers work with women to scan their reproductive organs and assess the development and health of fetuses throughout the pregnancy.
- Echocardiography sonographers are trained in the imaging and evaluation of the heart, its valves and vessels, and the blood flow to and from the heart.
- Vascular technologists are trained to use ultrasound technology to identify damaged areas or blockages in blood vessels, and to gauge the flow of blood through veins and arteries.
- Ophthalmology sonographers conduct diagnostic tests on the eyes and surrounding muscles and tissue.
- Neurosonology sonographers are specially trained to use ultrasound imaging to detect blockages, tumors or abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
Online Ultrasound Technician Colleges
As earlier discussed, virtually all sonogram technician colleges have a clinical requirement to their programs. So although you can receive a certificate or degree online, a significant portion of the training will be either held in an on campus laboratory or at a sponsored off-campus facility. Practical training can often be satisfied through an internship at a local Florence ALhospital, outpatient clinic or private practice. However the remainder of the training and classes can be attended online in your Florence home. This is particularly beneficial for those students that keep working while getting their degrees. In addition online schools are frequently less expensive than on campus options. Costs for commuting and study materials may be lessened as well. But just as with every sonographer school you are considering, check that the online program you select is accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting organizations is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Accreditation is particularly significant for certification, licensing and finding employment (more on accreditation later). So if you are dedicated enough to attend classes outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, then an online degree could be the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Sonography Schools
Now that you have decided on the type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, you can initiate the procedure of evaluating and comparing sonogram tech colleges. You will first probably want to decide whether you will attend classes online or commute to a school campus in the Florence AL area. Obviously location will be critical if you select the latter, and the cost of tuition no doubt will be an initial qualification also. But there are other things that you should also take into account, such as if the schools are accredited and if they offer internship programs. So in order to complete your due diligence so that you can arrive at your final selection, below are some questions that you need ask each sonographer school before deciding.
Are the Ultrasound Technician Colleges Accredited? A large number of ultrasound technician schools have earned some form of accreditation, whether national or regional. However, it's still crucial to confirm that the program and school are accredited. One of the most highly respected accrediting agencies in the field of sonography is the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS). Programs earning accreditation from the JRC-DMS have gone through an extensive review of their instructors and course materials. If the program is online it can also earn accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance education. All accrediting organizations should be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Besides ensuring a superior education, accreditation will also help in securing financial assistance and student loans, which are many times not available for non-accredited programs. Accreditation might also be a pre-requisite for licensing and certification as required. And numerous Florence AL employers will only hire a graduate of an accredited school for entry level positions.
Are Internship Programs Provided? Inquire if the ultrasound tech colleges you are assessing have partnerships with Florence AL hospitals or clinics for internship programs. Internships are not only a terrific way to get practical training in a clinical setting, they are also a means to fulfill the practical training requirement for the majority of programs. As a supplemental benefit, they may assist students and graduates form professional relationships in the Florence health care community and help with job placement.
Is Job Placement Assistance provided? You will undoubtedly wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but getting that first job in a new profession can be difficult without support. Find out if the ultrasound tech programs you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent sign that the schools have large networks and good relationships with Alabama healthcare employers. It also corroborates that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the Program Located? For many students, the college they select will need to be within commuting distance of their Florence AL residence. Those who have chosen to attend online classes naturally will not have to worry themselves with the location of the campus. However, the availability of area internships will be of importance. One thing to bear in mind is that if you decide to enroll in a program that is out of state or even out of your local area, you might be required to pay a higher tuition. State colleges often charge higher tuitions for out of state residents. And community colleges commonly charge a higher tuition to those students that live outside of their districts.
What Size are the Classes ? Unless you are the kind of student that prefers to sit far in the rear of the classroom or get lost in the crowd, you will probably prefer a smaller class size. Smaller classes allow for more individual participation and personalized instruction. Ask the schools you are considering what the average teacher to student ratio is for their classrooms. If practical you may prefer to sit in on one or more classes before making your final decision. This will also give you a chance to converse with a few of the instructors and students to get their perspectives regarding the ultrasound tech program as well.
Does the College Accommodate your Schedule? And last you must confirm that the ultrasound tech program you finally choose can furnish the class schedule you need. This is especially crucial if you decide to continue working while you attend school. If you must schedule evening or weekend classes in the Florence AL area, confirm that they are available. If you can only enroll on a part-time basis, find out if that is an option and how many courses or credit hours you would have to enroll in. Also, find out what the protocol is for making up any classes that you might miss due to illness, work or family obligations.
Choose the Best Florence Ultrasound Tech Training
Enrolling in the ideal ultrasound tech degree or certificate program is a crucial first step to entering a fulfilling new profession delivering diagnostic services to patients. Ultrasound tech schools require that you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Apart from satisfying academic standards, you must be in at least fairly good physical condition, capable of standing for lengthy periods with the ability to routinely lift weights of 50 pounds or more, as is it typically necessary to adjust patients and maneuver heavy machinery. Other desirable talents include technical aptitude, the ability to remain levelheaded when faced with an angry or anxious patient and the ability to converse clearly and compassionately. As we have covered in this post, there are a number of questions that you should ask each school you are looking at. This holds true whether you choose an online degree or travel to the college campus to attend classes. And by asking the right questions so that you can assess each program, you will be able to narrow down your options until you are left with the ideal program for your education. And with the proper training, dedication and motivation to succeed, you can accomplish your goal to practice as an ultrasound tech in Florence Alabama.